Thu, Dec 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Local firm eRead launches new electronic book reader

By Jason Tan  /  STAFF REPORTER

An electronic book reader developed by a local company made its debut yesterday, with the aim of revolutionizing the way people read.

"This is technology that will radically change people's reading habits," Jack Tsai (蔡東機), chairman of eRead Technology Co (宜銳科技), told reporters yesterday.

With a year of research and development and funding of NT$200 million (US$6.2 million), the company yesterday introduced the STAReBOOK, a comic book-sized e-book reader.

Retailing at NT$12,900, the slim gadget weighs just 180g, is 0.8cm thick and has a 6-inch screen. It supports reading of pictures or documents in pdf, txt, doc and jpg formats, and doubles as a MP3 music player.

The battery lasts for 8,000 page views, or around 60 books.

Aspiring to become the largest digital reading solution provider in Asia, eRead hopes to emulate the success formula of Apple Computer Inc's iPod and iTunes.

It is now working with major publishing firms in the region to support downloads of novels, non-fiction works and comic books to readers.

The portal offers more than 3,000 titles for download, and more will become available in the near term, said Tom Tsai (蔡明峰), eRead's chief officer in Taiwan.

Users can download titles at up to 30 percent off the market price of books, and content providers are assured of copyright protection with the use of related technology, he added.

The company said that the first-batch of devices would include 2,000 units for sale in Asia, and total sales for next year would amount to 60,000 units.

The company is the latest to join the craze for e-book technology, along with Japan's Sony Corp, which recently launched a similar product priced at US$350 in the US.

STAReBOOK will see strong demand in Asia due to its support for both simplified and traditional Chinese, as well as its thin size, Tom Tsai said.

The company will launch 5-inch screen and WiFi-enabled models in the middle of next year to reach a wider user base, he said.

To fund the expansion, eRead is expected to rope in several venture capitalists from China and Hong Kong by the end of the month, Jack Tsai said.

The anticipated injection of US$20 million will pave the way for the

company's future listing on the NASDAQ exchange, he said.

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